Category Archives: Catholic Sabah

Remembering the eight brave war heroes from WWII

Representatives of the eight families pause in silent prayer after the wreath-laying ceremony, Petagas War Memorial Park, 21 Jan 2018.

Between June 12 and early July 1945, eight local civilians were apprehended, denied military trials, tortured and unlawfully killed for participating in anti-Japanese subversive activities with “sympathies which leaned towards the Allied cause.”   The 1946 war crime trials held in Changi Singapore revealed that of the 30+ men on a black list, Kempeitai Harada Kensei chose to issue three orders to eradicate the “8 civilians” identified as the primary persons “definitely detrimental” “to the maintenance of peace and order.”

The first order involved Lothar Wong Manjaji and Vitalianus Joseph Lim @ Ubing. The second order involved Chong Pin Sin, Simon Thien, and Bung Ah Tee @ Stephen Pan Tet Liong and Paul Lee Onn @ Paul Lee Fook Onn. The third order involved Lim Hock Beng and Mohinder Singh.

The Kempeitai was found responsible and guilty of all three charges by the Allied Land Forces Military Court for War Crimes. (Ref: The National Archives, Kew. Japanese War Crime Trials Proceedings. Reference WO 235/884 1946 Case No.72. Defendant: Harada Kensei, Changi, Singapore).

On a bright Sunday morning on 21 January 2018, during the annual 2018 official ceremony for all war victims, eight men’s names were commemorated on a new plaque at the main war monument at the Petagas War Memorial Park.

After decades of waiting and grieving by their families, the eight were finally accorded a hero’s recognition, with representatives from each family laying a wreath at the site. The ceremony was attended by state dignitaries and representatives from the police, army, navy, foreign consulates and many from the eight families and other families.

On Jan 22, a Memorial Mass was celebrated by the Rector of St Simon Church, Father Cosmas Lee at St Simon Chapel, Likas.

Out of these eight men, six were Catholics and several were prominent leaders in their local and church communities. The Mass, held nearly 73 years after their deaths, was attended by up to 200 family members. It was the first time they gathered to pray for their loved ones – be it their father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, granduncle, great-granduncle or even cousin. To the younger generations, they were persons they had heard a lot about but had never known.

It was a poignant reminder of the cruelties of what war had done to the families. At the same time, it gave them much needed closure and a sense of pride knowing their beloved ones had died bravely and now acknowledged by the state authorities.

During the Mass, Fr Cosmas said that war has a dehumanising effect on humankind, on the aggressors and the victims alike. No one is spared the horrors of what happens in a war. We have to heal by praying for all victims, as well as the enemies. Just as Jesus prayed for and forgave those who crucified him, we must do the same.   As only by that, we ourselves are healed and reconciled to God.

After the Mass, old friends met to bond and share stories during a simple fellowship dinner at St Simon hall.

These eight men were not just random names but were inextricably linked together from their childhood days – through school, church and the local community. Much of what is known of them come from oft-repeated stories from the wives, older surviving children, written correspondence, official and church records.

The six staunch Catholics were also good friends to one another. They played a prominent role in the church community before and during the war. Born at the turn of the century, several of them were ‘old boys’ of Father Valentine Weber, a Mill Hill priest from the Tyrol looking after the Sacred Heart Mission and boys’ school from 1906-1930. They were very likely much influenced by this priest who was described as “a man of few words, his actions spoke for him instead. He continues to be reverently remembered by parishioners as a Father with outstanding kindness, especially his deep compassion for the poor.” (100 years of Good News Sacred Heart)

Church records provide a fascinating insight into the lives of these men and the part the church and their faith played in their lives. Fr Weber lived in the same house as the boarders – many of whom were children of “poverty-stricken emigrant parents, majority of whom could not pay a fee.” Fr Weber used his limited funds to shelter, clothe, feed and educate them like his own children. “These students, known as Fr Weber’s boys, developed a life-long loyalty to him and many grew up to be prominent citizens of Jesselton who would make up the core community of faith.” (100 years of Good News Sacred Heart Cathedral)

Among these older ex-students were Paul Lee Fook Onn (Lee Ah Onn), Simon Thien, and (Lothar) Manjaji.

In the first war crime charge, Lothar Manjaji and Vitalianus Lim were on this list. The Japanese authorities suspected them of making parangs and spears in preparation for an uprising, and also of preventing the Japanese from hiring coolies.

Msgr Wachter (L), Manjaji (seated)

LOTHAR WONG MANJAJI, was born Wong Kah Kee in 1896 in Limbanak, Penampang, the third child of six children of Antonius Bungon/Pungun Wong and Siaham. Lothar was baptised as a Catholic at age 16 in December 1912 by Father August Wachter, then the rector of St Michael’s, Penampang.

It is recorded in the history of St Aloysius School Limbanak that Manjaji first taught adult male classes in his elder brother Ligunjang Pungun’s house. At that time, no females went to school. Manjaji, who had been educated at Sacred Heart School under Fr Weber, later took it upon himself to educate some of his brothers’ children, especially the girls who were still living in the kampung.

In the 1930s leading up to the war, Manjaji was employed by the Rubber Restriction Board. He also owned family businesses e.g. a rice mill (where local families bartered the milling of their padi with rice grain) and 50 acres of rubber land. According to historian Danny Wong, this sound financial position allowed him to indulge in sporting activities and all that “made him famous and remembered among people of his community, as well as able to live quite comfortably and accorded him the strength to play a pivotal role within his community”.

He was an active member of the Sacred Heart Church and close to the priests. A father of seven children, he often invited the foreign missionaries to his Karamunsing home for dinner. A frequent visitor was Msgr August Wachter, the previous rector of Penampang Mission from 1907 and who became the fourth Prefect Apostolic of North Borneo (1927–1945).The then Fr Wachter had baptised Manjaji as a teenager and was undoubtedly a key influential figure in his life. His daughter Katherine Anna, born in 1928, would recount many stories of Msgr Wachter visiting the their Karamunsing house and how he would call her by her second name ‘Anna’.

During the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, Manjaji was appointed native magistrate by the Japanese Military Administration. One of his duties was to supervise the collection of padi and other foodstuff for the Japanese army from the Dusun cultivators in the district, many of whom had little for themselves and hardly any to spare. Katherine said they used to hide the bulk of the padi up in the roof of their house and display the little padi left to the Japanese soldiers who would come to each house to check their stock.

Towards the end of the war, on 19 May 1945, the Japanese army arrived at the Penampang mission to take Msgr Wachter, six other foreign priests, and three school boarders away. The church annals recorded that before Msgr Wachter was taken away, “there came to him Manjaji, Herman (Motogol), Vitalianus Lim and Claudius Yap, all influential members of the parish and he begged them to look well after the Mission property in case the Japs insisted on their removal.” (100 years of Good News Sacred Heart).

Soon after, those men were also apprehended by the Kempeitei. Manjaji’s body has never been recovered. After his death, his widow Otillia Libuyan Bokuta was left to fend for their seven children and also those he had adopted.

VITALIANUS J LIM @ UBING was born in 1900 at Kg Limbahau. He was the son of Didacus Lim, a Chinese originating from Hainan China, and Maria Gondomboi Kokoyou, a local Kadazan. Vitalianus married Marcella Kuntim Duaon, a Kadazan and they had six children, three of whom are surviving today. He worked for the government as a clerk in Kudat and Keningau. Later, he was transferred back to Jesselton as Constabulary Clerk. He was also a volunteer with the North Borneo Volunteer Force (established in 1938) as a Corporal.

When the war started, Lim was appointed as the District Officer of Tenom and in 1943, was transferred back to Jesselton and resided at Batu Tiga (presently Bukit Perwira). Based on evidence from the 1946 War Crime Trial proceedings, the family believes that he was unlawfully killed on 13 June 1945 together with Manjaji. After his death, the family moved back to Papar and resided at Kg Limbahau, attending the Holy Rosary Church, Limbahau where they continued to journey on in their faith.

The two men’s close friendship and association with the church as well as the other men named on the black list seemed to suggest a linkage with each other. – Vera Chin and Susanna Lye

(Vera is the granddaughter of Lothar Manjaji and Susanna Lye is the granddaughter of Paul Lee.)

To be continued

Can you really vote your conscience?

Can you really vote your Conscience?

“VOTE your conscience” is not an unfamiliar phrase during election seasons. However, conscience is a biblical theme, and Christians should ask whether the common understanding of conscience in our society has become more in line with Disney’s Jiminy Cricket than with the word of God.

When we open the Bible and ask what God has to say about it, we’ll soon find that your conscience, in fact, does not have a vote in this election.

Hearing crickets?

The way many of us understand the conscience is actually very close to a tiny cricket living inside our heads. The conscience is like an inner, speaking guide leading us through the blinding haze when we lose our way.

Tapping into the wisdom of Seinfeld’s Kramer: “What does the little man inside you say? . . . The little man knows all.” In short, many people think of their conscience as the guiding voice inside them that speaks which direction to take at the fork in the road. When you don’t know what to do, let your conscience be your guide. So, when we hear, “Vote your conscience,” we think, “Listen to the guiding voice inside you.”

Can’t vote your conscience

This understanding of the conscience more closely resembles the Hindu idea of a guru counselor than the Bible’s explanation of the conscience.

Biblically speaking, the conscience is less like a guide and more like a reporter. Your conscience is not like a crystal ball that tells you what choice to make going forward (whether this candidate or that one). It’s not a proactive voice that provides you with new information you do not know. Rather, it is a reactive voice that tells you whether your actions, thoughts, and beliefs conform to the law of God.

Biblically, your conscience doesn’t have a vote. To be precise, you don’t “vote your conscience” – but your conscience does have something to say about your vote, once you begin to formulate it.

Your conscience is the inward testimony of God’s law written on your heart (Romans 2:15); it is like a microphone to God’s law, so that no one can ever say before God, “I didn’t know I was sinning” (Romans 2:16). The unbelieving suppress the truth of God within them (Romans 1:18), but this is no excuse for not knowing God, because the conscience regularly reports to them that they are sinning against God’s law.

If a Christian sins against God’s law, the conscience will flare up – in fact, the Christian conscience is presumably more sensitive because of the Spirit’s work in us. However, the Christian’s conscience is not testifying to the wrath of an angry God but the loving discipline of a heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:6–7).

No excuses for bad decisions

The distinction between conscience-as-guide and conscience-as-reporter becomes massively significant when we apply it to elections and other important decisions.

For one, understanding your conscience as a guide – as a kind of third-party counsel, other than your own heart and mind – can aid the effort to excuse oneself from moral accountability. It is an easy thing to play the conscience card: “I’m going to vote for Candidate X because my conscience told me to.” Well, who can argue with that? If your conscience told you so, no need for further thought or careful arguments.

In reality, what most people mean by “conscience” is “my gut feeling,” which is to say, the bottom level of a sometimes-sinful, sometimes-good, often-confused, sincere mess of emotions, opinions, and understandings of what’s right and wrong – not exactly a faithful guide. Thus, the conscience often becomes a moral scapegoat either for sinful choices, or for the sin of apathy, or for neglecting the hard work required to make tough decisions.

By pointing to the “conscience,” many expect to be let off the hook for their sinful or unexamined actions. But this is foolish, since what they really mean by conscience is not the unquestionable law of God, but the highly questionable human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Essentially, this abused understanding of the conscience trades a deceptive excuse like “the devil made me do it” with “my conscience made me do it.”

For love of God and neighbour

A proper, biblical understanding of the conscience should lead Christians in the opposite direction. Instead of washing our hands of the hard work of making difficult decisions, we should be eager to give voting its due diligence and offer up our leanings against the law of God for evaluation.

The Christian’s conscience is tethered to God’s law. That means that the conscience always speaks to the summary of God’s law: love God and love your neighbour (Matthew 22:37–40), which is a helpful grid to consciously consider for any election: Which vote (or no vote) will be the truest expression of my love for God and desire for my neighbour’s good?

In any given situation, your conscience – properly speaking – will not lead you. It’s not your guide. But it will evaluate your thoughts or actions based on whether they conform or transgress God’s command to love him and love your neighbour with all you are – heart, mind, soul, and strength. Your own God-given wisdom – your “powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14) – will lead you to understand (and be accountable for) the best way to obey the obligations of love for God and neighbour by voting for this candidate or that (or whether to abstain, not from apathy, but from principle).

What your conscience will do is convict you if you are voting out of sinful comfort or greed or fear. Or it will minister God’s approval if you act, as well as you’re able, in an effort to obey the command to honour him and love your neighbour.

When this is done – when your vote is a positive expression of a heart that is earnestly “desiring to act honourably in all things” (Hebrews 13:18) – you will receive the testimony of a good conscience.

Make that your goal this election season: not to hear crickets, but to receive the peace that comes from “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

So, don’t vote your conscience. Rather, in whatever electoral choice you make – hidden to the world, but in the full sight of God – seek to love him and love your neighbour with a good conscience. – www.desiringgod

In season of Lent, Church offers everyone to live a time of desert

LENT is the occasion that the church offers to everyone, indistinctly, to live a time of desert without thus having to abandon daily activities. St Augustine made this famous appeal:

Re-enter your heart! Where do you want to go far from yourself? Re-enter from your wandering which has led you outside the way; return to the Lord. He is quick. First re-enter into your heart, you who have become a stranger to yourself, because of your wandering outside; you do not know yourself, and seek Him who has created you! Return, return to your heart, detach yourself from your body…. Re-enter into your heart: there examine Him whom you perceived as God, because the image of God is there, Christ dwells in man’s interior.”

To re-enter into one’s heart! But, what is represented by the word heart, of which there is so often talk in the Bible and in human language? Outside the ambit of human physiology, where it is but a vital organ of the body, the heart is the most profound metaphysical place of a person, the innermost being of every man, where each one lives his being a person, namely his subsisting in himself, in relation to God, from whom he has his origin and in whom he finds his purpose, to other men and to the whole of creation. In ordinary language the heart also designates the essential part of reality. “To go to the heart of the problem” means to go to the essential part of it, on which all the other parts of the problem depend.

Thus, the heart indicates the spiritual place, where one can contemplate the person in his most profound and true reality, without veils and without pausing on externals. Every person is judged by their heart, by what he bears within himself, which is the source of his goodness and his wickedness. To know the heart of a person means to have penetrated the intimate sanctuary of his personality, by which that person is known for what he really is and is worth.

To return to the heart means therefore to return to what is most personal and interior to us. Unfortunately, interiority is a value in crisis. Some causes of this crisis are old and inherent to our nature itself. Our “composition,” that is, our being constituted of flesh and spirit, inclines us toward the external, the visible, the multiplicity. Like the universe, after the initial explosion (the famous Big Bang), we are also in a phase of expansion and of moving away from the centre. We are perennially “going out” through those five doors or windows which are our senses.

Saint Teresa of Avila wrote a work titled The Interior Castle, which is certainly one of the most mature fruits of the Christian doctrine of interiority. However, there is, alas, also an “exterior castle” and today we see that it is possible to be shut-in also in this castle. Shut outside of home, incapable of returning. Prisoners of externals!

What is done outside is exposed to the almost inevitable danger of hypocrisy. The look of other persons has the power to deflect our intention, like certain magnetic fields deflect the waves. Our action loses its authenticity and its recompense. Appearance prevails over being. Because of this, Jesus invites to fasting and almsgiving in a hidden way and to pray to the Father “in secret” (cf. Mt 6:1-4).

Inwardness is the way to an authentic life. There is so much talk today of authenticity and it is made the criterion of success or lack thereof in life. However, where is authenticity for a Christian? When is it that a person is truly himself? Only when he has God as his measure. “There is so much talk – writes the philosopher Kierkegaard – of wasted lives. However, wasted only is the life of a man who never realized that a God exists and that he, his very self, stands before this God.”

Persons consecrated to the service of God are the ones who above all are in need of a return to interiority. In an address given to Superiors of a contemplative religious Order, Paul VI said:

Today we are in a world which seems to be gripped by a fever that infiltrates itself even in the sanctuary and in solitude. Noise and din have invaded almost everything. Persons are no longer able to be recollected. They are prey of a thousand distractions, they habitually dissipate their energies behind the different forms of modern culture. Newspapers, magazines, books invade the intimacy of our homes and of our hearts. It is more difficult to find the opportunity for the recollection in which the soul is able to be fully occupied in God.”

However, let us try to see what we can do concretely, to rediscover and preserve the habit of inwardness. Moses was a very active man. But we read that he had a portable tent built and at every stage of the exodus, he fixed the tent outside the camp and regularly entered it to consult the Lord. There, the Lord spoke with Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).

However, we cannot always do this. We cannot always withdraw into a chapel or a solitary place to renew our contact with God. Therefore, Saint Francis of Assisi suggested another device closer at hand. Sending his friars on the roads of the world, he said: We always have a hermitage with us wherever we go and every time we so wish we can, as hermits, re-enter in this hermitage. “Brother body is the hermitage and the soul is the hermit that dwells within to pray to God and to meditate.” It is like having a desert “in the house,” in which one can withdraw in thought at every moment, even while walking on the street. Saint Anselm of Aosta in one of his famous works:

Come now, miserable mortal, flee for a brief time from your occupations, leave for a while your tumultuous thoughts. Move away at this moment from your grave anxieties and put aside your exhausting activities. Attend to God and repose in him. Enter into the depth of your soul, exclude everything, except God and what helps you seek him and, having closed the door, say to God: I seek your face. Your face I seek, Lord.” – Fr Raneiro Cantalamessa

How to pray for the upcoming general elections

In Paul’s teaching on prayer in 1 Tim 2:1–4, one of the major thrusts is praying for those in authority. According to Paul’s reasoning, we want good government that allows us to live “peaceful and quiet lives” – ultimately freeing us to evangelise those who are lost.

Paul would have been amazed that Christians could someday actually take part in selecting those leaders. I believe he would have been even more amazed (and appalled) that many of those Christians didn’t even bother to get involved in selecting those leaders for the purposes of God to be fulfilled.

Praying for the electoral process is the first step in seeing the fulfillment of what Paul is writing about to Timothy. I don’t believe we should wait for a leader to be selected before we move into obedient prayer for those in authority.

So why pray for the elections? There are a number of compelling reasons:

The Bible commands us to pray for those who are in leadership, which would include those who are vying to become leaders.

Godly leaders can help slow the erosion of religious liberties in our land, providing an increased window of opportunity for the Church to pray and evangelise.

The selection of leaders who understand and lead according to God’s righteous standards can bring great blessing to a nation (Prov 14:34).

Scripture also says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers” (Prov 11:14). The determination of who leads our nation will also determine who advises that leader and how we are guided.

Here are seven major areas to pray for that relate to our national election.

  1. Pray for our nation and the issues it faces.
  2. Pray for the Election Process, for wisdom for voters and a safe and fair election.
  3. Pray for the salvation of candidates and leaders who are in leadership of our nation.
  4. Pray for the Church.
  5. Pray for the Media and for truth to be an established standard in our news media.
  6. Spiritual Warfare – ask for great awareness and discernment as we pray over the election.
  7. Revival – pray for a Great Awakening to sweep the nation as the Lord’s people learn to humble themselves with a contrite spirit, and to tremble at the Word of the Lord.

We can broaden the prayer effort beyond our own prayers by being part of the 24/7 IN-THE-AIR prayer centres which have flourished across the country, to join like-minded Christians to pray for a fair and just electoral process. For more information on the 24/7 prayer centre in SHC, contact Lucia @ 012-8027255. – reviveourhearts

Korean orphanage renamed “Woori Jib” instead of Hamin Tokou

POTUKI, Putatan – On 28 November 2016  Woori Jib, once known as Hamin Tokou, was officially opened and blessed by Archbishop John Wong and witnessed by Rev General Liborious Park Hye Sik and Tan Sri Datuk Sri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Woori Jib St Francis Xavier Potukia welfare home for orphans from poor Catholic families, is located at Kampung Potuki, Lokawi Putatan. In Korean, Woori Jib means “Our Home.”   The welfare of the children in this home is fully sponsored by the Clerical Society of the Most Holy Trinity of Mirinae, South Korea (SST).

Currently, the home is taken care of by two house mothers and a cook. There are also a few volunteers helping to look after the home apart from three full time priests running the home.

An agreement has recently been signed between the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu and the Clerical Society of the Most Holy Trinity of Mirinae for the Society to set foot in the Archdiocese.  The priests are Father Andrew Kim Youngjun, Father Lawrence Kim Jinsu and Father Leo Choi Sangki, who is also the patron of Woori Jib.

Woori Jib has started taking in children from poor families, mostly girls aged between 7-17 years. On 3 March 2017, five orphan girls began their stay at this home. However, in mid- 2017, Woori Jib opened the home for poor families too, including those families who cannot afford to send their children to school due to poverty.  As at January 2018, the number of boarders has increased to eight.

The home can accommodate up to 25 children at any one time. It is only accepting girls aged between 7- 17 (or Primary One to Form Five). After finishing their study in Form Five, they would return to their families.

In 2017, visitors and volunteers have visited the Woori Jib St Francis Xavier Potuki orphanage home to offer charity work to clean the home and its surroundings, donated cash, food and school materials.  While there, they also interacted with the children of Woori Jib.

The management of Woori Jib also announced that “Hamin Tokou Holy Item” located at Megalong is no longer associated with Fr Leo and is managed by Lawrence Jakil, while Woori Jib Holy Item, under the management of Woori Jib, is located at Lot No. 1-202, (Corner), Tingkat Satu, Bangunan ITCC (International Technology & Commercial Centre) Penampang and would be open for business by mid-March.

Any activities dealing with charity visit organised by Hamin Tokou no longer has any association with Fr Leo.  For any inquiries or charity visits, kindly contact the Management of Woori Jib, St Francis Xavier Home Potuki at 019-8822418 or 088-752088. – Woori Jib Management

Battles and Blessings: a tribute to the late Mary Selestine

LIFE as a Christian is a struggle between battles and blessings. In between there’s a need for intense prayer.

Prayer is an invocation that seeks to activate a rapport through deliberate communication with the Lord. It can be either as an individual or as a community and can take place in private or public.

This journey of prayer and faith chosen by the late Marykutty Selestine in her life as a staunch Catholic illustrates the power and blessings one can receive by sheer faith and practice of that faith.

Mary Selestine was called to the Lord on 27 December 2017, at the age of 75. She regularly attended daily and Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu… a familiar figure in that parish, but now sadly missed by all who had known her.

She faced multiple illnesses over 23 years. Yet she held on to the belief that all things come from God and that life is full of both battles and blessings. She held firmly to the belief that it is only in prayer that one gets true answers from the Lord.

Hailing from a small village in Kerala, India, her faith had an early start. She was the youngest of six siblings in an extended family with several priests and religious. She attributed the strong foundation of her faith to her mother Sosamma Panicker, who she remembered as strict and loving and a constant source of inspiration and strength.

Her mother’s discipline and values made a lasting impact on Mary’s life and gave her a deep-rooted belief in prayer. In 1967, she married Peter Selestine and set sail for Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. That was her first venture outside her home state of Kerala.

Since then, Kota Kinabalu had been her home, where she lived for a good 50 years (1967-2017). She taught at St Francis Convent for a brief period and later got involved in her husband’s restaurant business.

In early 1994, she was diagnosed with acute kidney failure and underwent a kidney transplant in August 1994. With the transplant came various ailments that lasted throughout her life. She slowly withdrew from active involvement in business.

A year or so later, she began to have a desire to do something useful with the gift of life that the Lord gave her. She started participating in church groups, taking every opportunity to share with others her experience with the Lord. She became a comforting confidante for others going through difficulties in life.

Being a transplant patient, she was on a high dosage of medication to avoid rejection. Those medicines had many side effects. She began to have very brittle bones and suffered from severe aches and pains.

Furthermore, she underwent surgeries for her knees and eyes, had an angioplasty and many other medical issues. Despite all these ailments, not once did she look up and ask, “Why me, Lord?” She only prayed for strength to bear the pain and burden.

She founded her belief on prayer as a dialogue with God, calling out to him not only in distress but also in thanksgiving for every blessing she received. She made it a point to start her day with the Eucharistic blessing at morning Mass and did not miss it unless extreme poor health prevented her to do so.

Attending daily Mass for the last 50 years, she submitted all her aches and the pains to God in prayer during the Eucharist. This was her daily schedule until the end.

She was disciplined with her time. Every afternoon, there was a time for prayer, and could find some time for her favourite TV shows. She tried to schedule in at least one church activity a day.

She also believed that prayer was the only way to get blessings for her children. She dedicated one decade of the holy Rosary for each of her children and their families. She was a strong advocate of prayer and she counseled everyone to pray continually for their children.

She asked them to dedicate their pain and troubles to the Lord and seek blessings for their children. She reminded her family and close friends that prayer was the one remedy to all troubles. She vouched for it and lived by it.

In her younger days, she prayed on her knees before a picture of Jesus and as she grew older prayed at her desk. She especially enjoyed speaking out loud to the Lord when driving alone. There was a time for God every day. She held that if we don’t have time for God then God won’t have time for us.

According to her, faith in God meant that we rely on Him and depend on His reliability, thus realising that God is bigger, greater and better than anything else. She believed that her constant conversations with God would eventually turn into many blessings.

She held that that life would never be short of troubles nor would it lack blessings. She was sure that God allows trials and temptations in our lives so that we have the opportunity to respond either by trusting our own feelings and life experiences or by taking Him at His Word.

Mary believed that ultimately, the power of prayer resides not in the person praying, but in God who answers prayers. She used to tell family and friends, “Although God’s answers may not always be what we want, we can be certain that they will always be in our best interests. When we pray passionately and purposefully, according to God’s will, God responds powerfully.”

May we all learn and be enriched by the strong experience of this woman of faith. May each one of us also experience the same power of prayer in our lives; able to taste and see how good the Lord is.

And may Mary Selestine receive the reward of eternal rest in the Kingdom of God. – contributed by Selestine family


Discipleship programme draws 20 participants

KOTA KINABALU – Twenty people attended an eighth-day discipleship programme based on the theme The glory of God is a human being fully alive on 12-20 Jan 2018.

The programme, conducted by LiFE-ICPE Mission Sabah, was held at the Community House at Taman BDC Jalan Family Planning here.

It comprised of a weekend seminar on knowing God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, followed by five successive evenings of various teachings on self-knowledge that leads  to loving and serving others.

Organiser Beatrice Wong said the final day was focused on evangelisation and praying with one another to be able to live fully and share it with others.

She added that life lived in common through fellowship and prayer together provides a place of connection and application of what has been learned.

Participants were also encouraged to attend the monthly follow-up gatherings.

Jason Cyprinus, 21, a recent college graduate, said that his faith has expanded and that he desires to live life to the fullest with the knowledge that God loves him very much.

Fernando Jolin Gamin, 19, an electrician, shared that two areas in his life were transformed after going through the programme: “knowing about myself and living in community; the topic on ‘Self Awareness’ was the most significant for me.”

Shirley Paul, 32, a Medical Officer, said that the programme has transformed her outlook on her work or vocation, as well as her role in evangelisation, which is sharing her experience of God’s love with others.

Francisca Malantin, 61, a retired nurse, elaborated on her acquired understanding of being in a community.

“We cannot be on our own, we need to be in a community. This is where we can serve God’s people. I am so humbled by the way LiFE community interacts with the participants; they are so encouraging, so positive. I felt so loved and appreciated,” said Malantin.

She added, “During the sending-off and being prayed over, I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit overflowing and filling me, and felt God is embracing me” and promised to bring this love to her family.

LiFE-ICPE Mission Sabah is a lay community, committed to equip, transform and empower individuals in discovering and living out their purpose in life. LiFE is part of The Institute for World Evangelisation – ICPE Mission, an international Catholic Mission made up of Christians committed to the goal of world evangelisation. – Beatrice Wong

KK prelate launches Tg Aru parish vision and mission

Abp Wong exhorts the people at the blessing of the newly built shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea, 28 Jan 2018, Tanjung Aru.

TANJUNG ARU – Archbishop John Wong launched the newly-formulated Vision and Mission of Stella Maris Parish during his pastoral visit to the parish on 28 Jan 2018.

Teresa Alberto, Parish Pastoral Council chairperson, said the parish saw the need for a change, in particular, to walk towards the same vision of the archdiocese.

She quoted Father Peter Abas, assistant rector, who spearheaded the process for “a need to be a vibrant church, to be a more family-oriented church, prayerful and faithful parishioners.”

It is summed up in their Vision Statement: A Christ-centred parish family journeying together – strengthened by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Word of God in creating an evangelising community.

“We are adjusting to the new vision and mission. It has been calm here where we have been serving and celebrating according to the Church’s (calendar) with the fatherly and protective figures of our priests. Then comes this ‘storm of change’ which sets the parish on fire, moving it towards a direction,” said Alberto.

She added that the vision and mission have given them the energy to unite with confidence and zeal as one parish family walking in line with the archdiocesan vision and mission.

“Our ministry groups are excited, it moves our youth – they too are excited, we have programmes for the elderly to appreciate them better, renewal of marriage vows where we learn deeper about marriage,” she said, among others.

The formulating process started in August 2017 until January this year with a representation of all ministries and parish priests.

Alberto said this newly-formulated vision and mission would be communicated throughout the parish through their catechists.

Abp Wong said he was happy that they have a common direction with the archdiocese, and commended them for emphasising their vision on family and on being Christ-centred.

He remarked that many families (nowadays) are not Christ-centred so it is good to have such a vision. I hope with the formulation of the Vision and Mission and with the help of your patroness, Our Lady Star of the Sea, you will get closer to God and deepen your faith to resist all (temptations).”

The prelate also expressed his hope that the vision and mission will help them to grow closer to God and deepen their faith to resist all temptations through the help of Mary, Star of the Sea.

“I hope you will grow not only as individual parish family but also as one big diocesan family,” said the archbishop as he blessed the newly-installed Shrine of Our Lady outside the church after reciting the Vision prayer with the faithful.

Stella Maris is the fourth parish to formulate a parish vision and mission statement after Sacred Heart Cathedral, St John Tuaran, and Holy Nativity Terawi, since the promulgation of the Diocesan Organisational Pastoral Plan (DOPP) in 1997.

While it is not an obligation to have one, the archbishop encourages all parishes to have their own vision and mission statement in line with the archdiocesan vision.

Earlier during the BM Mass, the archbishop confirmed 62 young people. He advised the confirmands that it was not the end of their faith journey, and queried them on what they will do to keep the faith.

To that, Ezra Daniel, 17, said he wants to do corporal works of mercy; helping the elderly, being involved in the church such as ‘gotong-royong,’  among others.

The prelate encouraged them to join one or two ministries in the parish and said “I support you one hundred percent to join the Bible sharing class,” which engages young confirmands with class-based sharing coupled with outdoor activities. Linda Edward

Sabah clergy meet at annual gathering

Some of the priests chit-chat informally while waiting for dinner, 15 Jan 2018, BTRC

BUNDU TUHAN – Sabah clergy from three arch/dioceses came together for their annual gathering at the retreat centre here on 15-17 Jan 2018.

Turning up for the gathering were 43 priests, three bishops and 17 seminarians.

The timing for the gathering, always held in January, is fittingly appropriate as the seminarians are still in their year-end break, and the parishes schedules have not kicked in yet.

However, even though the gathering takes place after the hectic Advent and Christmas schedules, the main purpose of the gathering is to serve as a time to “get together” rather than a time to unwind or to relax.

The gathering is basically divided into two parts, namely the social so-called “sacramental brotherhood,” and the meeting proper.

As usual, the gathering began with a fellowship dinner on the first night. The informal time provided the priests and seminarians an opportunity to know one another better, as well as for those who have newly joined the seminary to get acquainted.

Apart from making or renewing friendships and catching up with each other, the priests also took this time to exchange some views on pastoral experiences in the parishes such as liturgical concerns and current church issues.

After breakfast, morning prayer and Holy Hour the next day, the Sandakan Diocese priests returned to their respective parishes, while the Keningau Diocese priests proceeded with their clergy meeting before making their way home.

The KK Archdiocese clergy also had their own clergy meeting in the afternoon, with the morning hours being made use of for Bible sharing, and concluding the day with an evening Mass.

The meeting resumed on the third morning and the gathering concluded with Mass before lunch, after which all returned to their respective parishes. – Fr Mattheus Luta

What makes a good Lent?

What makes a good Lent? Many of the faithful prescribe to doing something positive and incorporating the Lenten focus of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Practically, as a fresh way of embracing the deeper conversion of our hearts this Lent, we propose focusing each day on one of the corporal works of mercy – feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead; or the spiritual works of mercy – admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries and pray for the living and the dead.

With that said, during Lent we are called to mind our sins, amend our lives and voluntarily suffer in order to be more closely conformed to the cross of Christ. Or perhaps more simply, we are to grow in holiness.

On the one hand, the things we do in Lent should not be seen only in relation to 40 days but to the rest of our lives, so it’s always good to embrace practices that we intend to be committed to, not only for the duration of Lent but beyond as well.

Regarding fasting, and especially with the ‘normal’ phenomenon of ‘giving something up,’ it is important to realise what ought to be happening there. We are not to just grit our teeth and simply try to ‘get Lent over with,’ as these practices are meant to change us and assist in our growth in holiness.

Fasting and other ascetical practices are but the process of finding God truly attractive. When we curb our appetites, this magnifies the void in our heart that we may usually give to something else – be it food, drink, lust, entertainment or the like – and we can then turn to the Lord so He can fill it. If we grit our teeth and push through without turning to the Lord (prayer) – and then to others (almsgiving) – we can miss the boat. Oftentimes, ‘success’ in this light is met with increased pride (look at how good a job I did in not eating any chocolate all of Lent).

A good measuring stick for a “good Lent” is: “How will I find God more attractive? What does He want me to do in order to give my heart more entirely to Him? And when Lent concludes, do I experience greater freedom and find God more attractive than before?

In practice, resolutions should be concrete and achievable. And as we journey through Lent itself, re-evaluation and intentional adjustment are far better than absentmindedly watering things down or giving up. – Fathers Daniel Scheidt and Chris Lapp @ today’s

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